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Donald J. Trump Is The Greatest Threat To National Security and Our Democracy

America has never faced a greater threat to national security than Donald J. Trump. Republicans called out Hillary for her handling of classified material but Trump is far worse than Hillary when it comes to national security. Our Allies cannot trust Trump the president of Untied States not to leak their secrets and expose their assets. Our Allies will not be open to sharing any secrets that could expose assets or methods and that could include secrets that could prevent harm to Americans or American assets.

You cannot blame them nobody who has a brain and sense god gave them trust Trump. Trump disclosed classified information to the Russians in his first 4 months of office. Trump discussed classified information provided by an U.S. ally during an Oval Office meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, providing sufficient details that could be used by the Russians to deduce the identity of the ally. We cannot trust Trump will not to leak more secrets and possibly expose some of our assets. Trump has discussed sensitive information on unsecured cellphone that Chinese and Russian spies eavesdrop on his calls.

Trump has also tweeted classified photos.  We know what Trump has disclosed in public but we do not know what he has said in private. We do not know what classified secrets Trump may have given to the Putin or others in his private conversations and that should scare the hell out of you. Read below click the links to find out for yourself how great a threat to national security Donald J. Trump is.

Donald J. Trump (aka Don the Con, aka Don the Snake, aka Two face Donnie, aka The Don) is the most serious threat America has ever faced. Trump is attacking the free press, our Justice department our, Intelligence agencies, our Democracy and the rule of law in an attempt to protect himself from prosecution. Trump’s attacks will have long lasting and detrimental effects on America, Americans and Americas standing in the world. Trump praises Putin while attacking Americans, our Justice department our, Intelligence agencies, our Democracy and the rule of law. Trump believes what Putin says over what our Intelligence agencies have said about Russian interference in to ther2016 election. Trump refuses to accept our Intelligence agencies assessment that Russian interfered in the 2016 election.

Donald J. Trump is the greatest threat America has ever faced. Before the election Donald J. Trump claimed the election would be rigged and he claimed if he did not win, it was rigged. Because someone loses and election does not mean it is rigged only someone attempting to steal and election would say that. Donald J. Trump is the one who tried to rig the election first he tried to slow down the mail so that democratic votes would not be counted when that failed he tried to get the courts to overthrow the election and give it to him. When the courts refused to help him with his coup attempt Trump tried to get state governments to overturn the election. When the courts and the states refused to help in his coup attempt he tried to House and Senate members to help in him in his coup attempt. Some in the House and the Senate tried to help in in that coup attempt.

ABC News

George Stephanopoulos interviews Brian Murphy, the former DHS acting under secretary for intelligence, on "This Week." video...

CNN political analyst and renowned Watergate reporter, Carl Bernstein, calls former President Donald Trump "the most evil force in the White House that we have ever seen." video...

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN

(CNN) A burst of new disclosures exposing the extraordinary efforts by ex-President Donald Trump to steal power after his election defeat constitute a grave warning about the future and his potential bid to recapture the White House. The audacity of the former President's attempts to subvert the law by weaponizing the Justice Department not only underscores how close the United States came to a full blown constitutional crisis this year. It also emphasizes that any attempt by Trump to use a war chest already worth $100 million to try to recapture the White House in 2024 would represent a mortal threat to democracy and the rule of law from a leader who was undeterred even by his own first impeachment. New revelations emerging from Senate testimony, about a Trump Justice Department loyalist's alleged behind-the-scenes efforts to call into question elections in states the ex-President lost, also render the continued GOP whitewashing of history about Trump's crimes against the Constitution even more blatant and dangerous. more...

By Devan Cole, CNN

Washington (CNN) Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin said Sunday that former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen revealed in testimony this weekend "frightening" information about what had occurred at the Justice Department during the waning days of the Trump administration. "He told us a lot, seven hours of testimony. And I might quickly add: this was done on a bipartisan basis -- Democratic staff and Republican legal staff asking questions during this period of time," Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, told CNN's Dana Bash on "State of the Union" of the panel's interview with the former DOJ official. "It really is important that we ask these questions, because what was going on in the Department of Justice was frightening from a constitutional point of view," he added. "To think that (former Attorney General) Bill Barr left, resigned after he announced he didn't see irregularities in the election, and then his replacement was under extraordinary pressure -- the President of the United States, even to the point where they were talking about replacing him, that pressure was on." more...

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN

(CNN) Donald Trump now has a $100 million weapon to wield against US democracy. The defeated and disgraced ex-President's huge war chest, nearly all amassed within six months of leaving office, was built on his ravenous calls for cash from supporters bought into his delusional lie that the 2020 election was stolen. It is the latest sign, along with trips to win his favor by GOP candidates and his party's incessant efforts to wipe the history of his crimes against the Constitution, that Trump's threat to basic political freedoms is far from over. more...

Trump faces a single charge — "incitement of insurrection" - after the deadly Capitol riot in an impeachment resolution that the House will begin debating Wednesday.

WASHINGTON — Poised to impeach, the House sped ahead Monday with plans to oust President Donald Trump from office, warning he is a threat to democracy and pushing the vice president and Cabinet to act even more quickly in an extraordinary effort to remove Trump in the final days of his presidency. Trump faces a single charge -- "incitement of insurrection" - after the deadly Capitol riot in an impeachment resolution that the House will begin debating Wednesday.

At the same time, the FBI warned ominously on Monday of potential armed protests in Washington and many states by Trump loyalists ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration, Jan. 20. In a dark foreshadowing, the Washington Monument was being closed to the public amid the threats of disruption.

It all adds up to stunning final moments for Trump's presidency as Democrats and a growing number of Republicans declare that he is unfit for office and could do more damage after inciting a mob that violently ransacked the U.S. Capitol last Wednesday. "President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of Government," reads the four-page impeachment bill. "He will remain a threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office," it reads. more...

Online extremists started planning the chaos of January 6 months ago.
By Rebecca Heilweil and Shirin Ghaffary

Ali Alexander, a far-right activist and conspiracy theorist, posted a video to YouTube on Christmas Day, urging people to come to Washington, DC, on the day that Congress would finalize Joe Biden’s election to the US presidency. With a triumphant soundtrack, the video features President Trump at a rally declaring, “We will never give in. We will never give up, and we will never back down. We will never ever surrender.” It urges people to register to attend on a website, WildProtest.com, directing them to get to the Capitol building by 1 pm on the day of the event. The website even offered to help people find rides to get there.

This was just one of a slew of efforts from online communities that came together for the insurrection at the United States Capitol on Wednesday that left at least five people dead and many more injured. Many of these groups had been building enthusiasm online for such an event for years. They planned Wednesday’s event on social media and, as it was happening, gleefully livestreamed the destruction.

The events represent a turning point for the nation in its reckoning with the impact of online extremism. While misinformation researchers have warned for years of the growing influence of groups like QAnon, the Proud Boys, and neo-Nazis, Wednesday’s storming of the Capitol was the clearest evidence yet that these movements threaten to destabilize American democracy. more...

Utah members report they are safe amid melee.
By Lee Davidson

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney was furious after protesters — fired up by President Donald Trump at a rally saying he was robbed in the elction — stormed the U.S. Capitol and managed to stop the official count of the Electoral College vote,. “This is what the president has caused today, this insurrection,” he told New York Times reporter Jonathan Martin after senators arrived at a secure location. Reporter David Freedlander with Politico tweeted that Romney earlier yelled in the Senate chamber, “This is what you’ve gotten” to Ted Cruz and his colleagues who raised objections to the electoral vote counts.

Protesters managed to gain entrance eventually into the Senate chamber, and even pose in senators’ chairs. Television pictures showed protesters firing tear gas, and carrying weapons. Members of Congress were evacuated by police reportedly to secure locations. Sen. Mike Lee urged the Senate to continue the electoral count, and not let protesters stop it. “Congress was elected to govern. We need to get back on the floor and gavel in the Senate as soon as possible,” he tweeted. Lee added, “Whether we get back in the chamber or convene in a different location, the Senate should continue the work of the American people immediately. This outrage cannot be allowed to disrupt that work for a minute longer.” more...

The Kentucky Republican characterized Wednesday’s vote as the most important he’d ever cast in his 36 years in the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is leading the charge against President Donald Trump and a dozen Senate Republicans’ efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. In a floor speech following the first objection to Arizona’s election results, McConnell (R-Ky.) warned that the effort to object to certifying the Nov. 3 election, if successful, would spur U.S. democracy into a “death spiral.”  “The voters, the courts and the states have spoken,” McConnell said. “If we overrule them, it would damage our Republic forever.”

The Kentucky Republican characterized Wednesday’s vote as the most important he’d ever cast in his 36 years in the Senate. “I will not pretend such a vote would be a harmless protest gesture while relying on others to do the right thing,” McConnell said. “I will vote to respect the people’s decision and defend our system of government as we know it.” McConnell’s remarks come as more than a dozen Senate Republicans are planning to object to the certification of a handful of states, following Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who is leading one effort, is calling for the establishment of a ten-day electoral commission to investigate fraud allegations, which he acknowledged Tuesday is “extraordinarily uphill.” more...

The events of the past few weeks suggest the principles animating modern conservative constitutionalism are merely arguments of convenience.
By Steve Vladeck, professor at the University of Texas School of Law

There are any number of reasons to criticize the dozens of congressional Republicans who have vowed to object to duly certified slates of presidential electors Wednesday, when Congress meets to ratify President-Elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory. Among other things, there remains no substantiated evidence that the results in any states were inaccurate. Nor is that for lack of trying; in some states (including Georgia) there have been multiple audits of the final tallies using paper receipts, each of which has confirmed the results. As with any election, there have been infinitesimal discrepancies at the margins, but none of them come close to overcoming Biden's margins of victories in the tipping-point states — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — and some have only increased his margins.

Rather, the goal seems to be to try to appease and appeal to the president's supporters — to whom no amount of contrary evidence and/or rejections of these claims in court have sufficiently established that 81 million Americans voted for the other guy. In the process, these objections will serve only to perpetuate conspiracy theories and delegitimize the clearly legitimate election of our country's 46th president. Worse still, they may also set the stage for similar machinations four years from now — when they might be sufficient to overturn narrower election results.

Wednesday's antics aren't just dangerous political theater; they are also a betrayal of two of the foundational legal principles conservative Republicans have pushed for decades: The first of these is "originalism" — the theory that any debate over the meaning of specific constitutional provisions should be conclusively resolved by how those provisions would have been understood when they were adopted. The second, related principle is a particular understanding of "federalism" — the division of power between state and federal governments — through which our founding charter preserves the regulatory primacy of states over most topics, including federal elections. more...

*** Trump is still trying to steal the election. Trump lost he should man up get over it, move on and admit he is a sore LOSER. ***

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN

(CNN) Desperate, deluded and dangerous, President Donald Trump drove America deeper into a political abyss on Monday night in his zeal to steal an election he lost and to destroy faith in the democracy that fairly ejected him from office. The President spewed lies, conspiracy theories and nonsensically false claims of vote fraud before an angry crowd in Georgia on a trip scheduled to help two Republicans in toss up run-offs Tuesday set to seal the Senate balance of power. But as usual, and as it has been for the last four years, including during the fast-worsening pandemic that he ignored, the outgoing President's primary concern was himself. "By the way, there is no way we lost Georgia, that was a rigged election," Trump said in the first, inaccurate words out of his mouth after disembarking from his Marine One helicopter, before broadening his disinformation to the November 3 election as a whole.

"When you win in a landslide and they steal it and it's rigged, it is not acceptable," Trump said in an embittered screed, rooted in false claims that he prevailed in an election President-elect Joe Biden won 306-232 in the Electoral College. Though he often wove GOP Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue into his remarks -- and warned of the dangers of a Democratic monopoly of power in Washington if they lost -- the President's appearance was essentially a wild, on-stage prime-time TV version of Saturday's call in which he leaned on Georgia state officials to conjure votes out of thin air in order to discredit Biden's already certified Peach State victory -- a flagrant and possibly unlawful abuse of power. The President's rants on Monday night contrasted sharply with the stunning point-by-point denunciation of his case by a top GOP election official who used facts and evidence to dismiss false claims of electoral corruption. "This is all easily, provably false. Yet the President persists," Gabriel Sterling, the voting systems implementation manager for the Georgia secretary of state's office, said in a calm, reasoned news conference on Monday. more...

Trump’s effort to interfere with the Electoral College count will fail — this time. But it's dangerous because it provides a blueprint for next time.
Chris Truax

You’ve got to give credit where credit is due. President Donald Trump is sparking the biggest reexamination of the nuts and bolts of our democracy since the Constitutional Convention in 1787. How many of us had contemplated the ins and outs of the Vacancies Act or the proper scope of presidential power during a national emergency before Trump came along? Unfortunately, all this is missing some of the dignity of the original discussion, and we’ve ended up with a sort of tabloid version of The Federalist Papers in which those of us concerned about American institutions don’t so much engage in learned debate as in frantically attempting to head off the next pending scandal.

Which brings us to the Electoral Count Act of 1887. Until a few weeks ago, this was one of the most obscure pieces of legislation on the books. The ECA governs how Electoral College votes are counted. In short, during a joint session of Congress, the vice president opens the envelopes containing each state’s Electoral College votes and hands them to two tellers from the House and two tellers from the Senate who read the votes aloud. Once all the votes have been read, the tellers add them up and announce the result. In 2013, the entire process took 23 minutes. more...

*** Trump is the greatest threat that our country has ever faced. ***

Nicholas Reimann Forbes Staff

President Donald Trump reportedly inquired about an idea raised by his former (and now pardoned) national security adviser, Michael Flynn, that the U.S. military be deployed to overturn the results of the presidential election—a claim shot down by his advisors at a meeting where the president appeared to embrace increasingly fringe notions about his election loss. New York Times White House correspondent Maggie Haberman reported Saturday that the president asked about Flynn’s idea, as senior officials are reportedly becoming very unsettled by Trump’s escalating interest in crackpot plans during his last days in power.

On Thursday, Flynn said that Trump could deploy the military to swing states he lost to President-elect Joe Biden in order to “rerun” the presidential election. During the meeting, Trump also floated naming the conspiracy-theorist attorney Sidney Powell—who has pushed a baseless theory that long-dead Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez rigged voting machines—as special counsel to investigate voter fraud. Axios reported Saturday that even some of Trump’s long-loyal top officials have been dismayed by Trump’s behavior, including his interest in Flynn’s views, with one senior official saying Trump “spends his time talking to conspiracy nuts who openly say declaring martial law is no big deal.” more...

Darla Mercado, CFP®

Republican election officials in Georgia on Sunday continued to rebut Donald Trump’s false claims of voter fraud, as the outgoing president tries to pressure the governor to help overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s win in the state. “The president’s statements are false, they’re misinformation,” Gabriel Sterling, voting system implementation manager for Georgia, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday morning. “They’re stoking anger and fear among his supporters.” “This undermines democracy,” said Sterling, who is a Republican. “We have got to get to a point where responsible people act responsibly.” Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger also countered the president’s baseless claims of election fraud on Sunday morning in an interview on “This Week” with ABC. “We’ve never found systemic fraud, not enough to overturn the election,” he said. more...

Analysis: "It's pretty difficult to think over the course of 50-60 days that you can do something constructive — but you can do something that's really destructive."
By Alexander Smith

LONDON — It's not uncommon for outgoing presidents to try to squeeze through foreign policy decisions with the final flourishes of their executive pen. But some observers fear that President Donald Trump — disgruntled, still claiming victory — is actively attempting to tie President-elect Joe Biden's hands and shape America's international outlook for months if not years to come. "It's pretty difficult to think over the course of 50-60 days that you can do something constructive — but you can do something that's really destructive," retired Adm. Michael Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently told NBC's "Meet the Press." Until Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20, Trump is well within his rights to use his presidential powers to push his administration's policy goals in places like Iran, Afghanistan and Iraq.

While many of Trump’s predecessors have not been shy about pursuing their agendas regardless of whether their successors agree with them, the president's moves have been far more dramatic than the norm, according to some experts. Trump has vowed to keep ratcheting up the pressure on Iran, hitting it with a fresh volley of sanctions and reportedly having to be dissuaded from pursuing military action. If that approach makes it harder for Biden to revive the Iran nuclear deal, some observers believe that the assassination of the Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh makes it more so. Israel, long suspected of killing Iranian nuclear scientists over the last decade, has declined to comment on the attack. Like his major ally in the White House, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed that the nuclear deal must never be resuscitated. more...

By Tim Fernholz

Amid the foreign policy wreckage president Donald Trump will leave for his successor are a pair of scrapped aircraft that underpinned a treaty designed to lower the chances of nuclear war. Since 2002, the US, Russia, and 32 other countries have allowed each other’s reconnaissance planes to fly into their airspace and snap pictures of the ground to give each party confidence that the other is adhering to arms control rules and not acting belligerently. Trump formally withdrew from the treaty this week after threatening to do so last year.

The Defense Department is taking the additional step of declaring the aging, specially equipped reconnaissance planes used for the mission “excess defense articles” to hand them off to foreign governments in an effort to kill the program for good. The Trump White House objected to Russian non-compliance with certain aspects of the treaty—including denying access to airspace over certain military installations—but many observers see the move as part of a worldview that will not tolerate constraints on US power. European allies and arms control advocates believed that pushing Moscow to adhere to the agreement was a smarter approach than withdrawing altogether. more...

by Will Bunch

OK, so you haven’t seen so many slam dunks since the USA “Dream Team” won the 1992 Olympics, as Team Trump’s ace legal department actually embraces My Cousin Vinny while racking up a courtroom won-loss record that rivals the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It’s been more than two weeks since the media and all other reputable observers called the 2020 election as a resounding win for Joe Biden, and yet President Donald Trump and his minions continue to press a case for overturning the result that’s melted faster than the stuff running out of Rudy Giuliani’s hair or his wherever.

Yes, it’s so easy to laugh at the ridiculousness of Trump’s scheme — which he telegraphed for months before Election Day — to somehow get judges, or state legislatures, or the Electoral College to anoint him the victor of an election he couldn’t win by getting the most votes, even in the battleground states that handed him the White House in 2016.

The latest proof of the pathetic nature of the president’s plot to allege widespread voter fraud, with zero actual evidence, came Saturday when a Republican, straight-outta-the-Federalist-Society jurist here in Pennsylvania — U.S. District Judge Matthew W. Brann — dismissed his campaign’s latest election challenge with prejudice,” using words like a “Frankenstein’s monster” and “unhinged” to describe the case argued by Giuliani last week. Yet as that was happening, the Trump campaign was demanding a reality-defying third recount that will surely ratify his loss in Georgia, much like the quadruple-amputated knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail continuing to insist that “it’s only a flesh wound.”

But it’s time now for all the laughter to die in outrage. Because we need to state in the clearest and most unambiguous terms what is happening in America in November 2020: The president of the United States is using the power of his office to try to overturn, by any means necessary, the fair and democratic election that will remove him from office. In a nation that stakes its claim to “exceptionalism” on 44 peaceful transfers of power (despite one that wasn’t) over 231 years, its current leader is attempting a coup. more...

Richard Wolffe

Here are some of the most slimy steps down the slippery slope towards The End of America As We Know It. Donald Trump is the kind of populist who hates the people: specifically, the clear majority of the people who voted him out of office. So he has set about one last gambit – what Dick Cheney liked to call “the last throes” – to steal the election he lost by gumming up the electoral college. He will fail in his crass attempts to corrupt the election, just as he has failed in his crass lawsuits to challenge the vote counts. Just as he has failed in his entire presidency.

But let’s not brush aside this moment because of its grotesque ineptitude and corruption. It’s not just another Trump tantrum. It may not be a coup, but it is an attempt to destroy American democracy forever. So let us count the ways this loser of a president has tried to Trumpify America’s elections. And let us never forget that he did so in cahoots with the formerly Grand Old Party that used to belong to Republicans but now belongs to the Trumpistas.

Here are some of the most slimy steps down the slippery slope towards The End of America As We Know It.
1 The founding myth of election night

It started in the bunker, with a few dozen of his closest cronies, watching the voters overrun every defensive position across a country he thought he knew well. When Trump finally spoke to the cameras in the East Room of the White House on election night, he declared that he was on track to win in Georgia, Pennsylvania and Michigan. He claimed it would be “nice” to win Arizona, but he didn’t even need it. more...

Austin Sarat and Dennis Aftergut

This has been his plan: fracture democracy’s foundation, create chaos and see where the shards and chips fall. The red light flashing danger to democracy grew more intense on 19 November. We thought it could hardly get worse, with Trump toady Lindsey Graham sticking his nose into Georgia’s business – he asked, per Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensberger, and a witness, about tossing legal ballots. And then the president did him one better.

After calling a member of Wayne county, Michigan’s Board of Elections who had previously voted to certify that county’s pro-Biden vote, he invited Republican Michigan legislators to the White House. The same legislators who, under the Constitution’s article II, could theoretically appoint a slate of Trump electors to Congress on 3 January when the president is formally selected, in total defiance of Michigan’s 140,000 more voters who chose Joe Biden.

This has been the president’s plan all along: if he loses, fracture democracy’s foundation, the vote. Create chaos, as is his wont, and see where the shards and chips fall. Delegitimize the victor to keep Trump the center of attention, to hold his base, dominate and intimidate Republicans everywhere.

The president may be hoping that his desperate, post-election maneuvers will miraculously deliver, and that three battleground state Republican legislatures will send alternate slates. Not impossible. But the odds are somewhere south of cherries across the board on your first pull of the slot-machine arm. more...

And I fear there’s no going back.
By Timothy Egan

Just when we thought we could sleep again. Just when we thought his malevolent reign was over, his poison bottled, that the sun was coming out tomorrow. Just when nearly 80 million Americans could shout the words of Dr. Seuss to Marvin K. Mooney: “Please go now!” Then, this: a shameless attempt to reject the will of hundreds of thousands of voters in the most populous county in Michigan and ultimately hand a state that Joe Biden won by some 157,000 votes over Donald Trump.

And this: In Nevada and Pennsylvania, Trump’s campaign asked courts to thwart the choice of a majority of voters and award their states’ Electoral College votes to the only president in history to lose the popular vote twice. It promised evidence of fraud but produced none. It was a blunt, raw, purely Trumpian move. Try to stop me. And this: Trump has invited Michigan legislators to the White House in a last-ditch — and legally dubious — effort to subvert the election.

What’s unfolding now is an attempted coup by a con. It’s a bigger political scandal than Russian interference four years ago. And yes, it is likely to fail, and the system is likely to prevail. But the American majority cannot rest, nor rely on its sense of decency, until the election hooligans are beaten back. Failing in court, this most authoritarian of presidents is pressuring Little Trumpers everywhere to overturn an election that Trump’s own cybersecurity chief, Christopher Krebs, said was “the most secure in American history.” He’s trying to force canvassers, certifiers, election board referees and state legislators to create enough chaos so that he can steal a win. more...

Opinion by Dana Milbank

So this will be President Trump’s parting gift to the nation: He is deliberately sabotaging the national security of the United States. His refusal to accept the results, even though it wasn’t a particularly close election, has taken an insidious new turn now that his political appointee in charge of authorizing the start of the Biden transition is refusing to give the okay. The delay undercuts all aspects of government’s functioning and leaves the country needlessly vulnerable to security threats.

We’ve seen this before. In 2000, the delayed transition “hampered the new administration in identifying, recruiting, clearing, and obtaining Senate confirmation of key appointees,” the 9/11 Commission concluded. To avoid a possible repeat of such a vulnerability, the commission recommended that “we should minimize as much as possible the disruption of national security policymaking during the change of administrations” so that “transitions can work more effectively and allow new officials to assume their new responsibilities as quickly as possible.” Trump is now actively undermining that recommendation — for no purpose other than ego. It would cost him nothing to begin the transition; in the extremely unlikely event that he is able to overturn the election results in several states and secure a victory, the transition authorization could easily be rescinded. more...

The law requires sitting presidents to preserve all records relating to the performance of their official duties — but it has no real enforcement mechanism.

From tearing up documents and hiding transcripts of calls with foreign leaders to using encrypted messaging apps and personal email accounts for government business, the Trump White House’s skirting of records preservation rules could limit the incoming Biden administration’s visibility into highly sensitive foreign policy and national security secrets.

The mysteries have swirled over the past four years: What was really said during Trump’s many phone calls and one-on-one meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin? What has Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kusher discussed with Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammed bin Salman on WhatsApp, where messages can be automatically deleted? Did Trump’s aides memorialize any of the reported conversations he had with U.S. and foreign officials about boosting his business empire?

The Presidential Records Act, which requires a sitting president to preserve and ultimately make public all records relating to the performance of their official duties, was passed 42 years ago in response to President Richard Nixon’s attempts to hide the White House tapes that led to his downfall. The law makes presidential records available to the public via the Freedom of Information Act beginning five years after the end of an administration. But it has no real enforcement mechanism and relies on the president’s good faith compliance, said Kel McClanahan, the executive director of the law firm National Security Counselors.

“Out of respect for the institution and the separation of powers, when Congress passed the PRA, they gave the White House the right to decide what constitutes a presidential record,” McClanahan said. “They never envisioned a president who would come in and just start shredding stuff.” There are some guidelines: The National Archives defines presidential records as any documentary materials “created or received” by the president, their immediate staff, or anyone in the Executive Office of the President “whose function is to advise or assist the President” in the course of carrying out official duties. But it is not clear how much has been preserved given Trump’s habit of ripping up documents — the employees once tasked with taping them back together were summarily fired in 2018 — and the White House’s general paranoia about leaks. more...

The former president says he's troubled by Republicans going along with President Trump's claims. See the interview, Sunday on 60 Minutes.
CBS News

In a new interview with 60 Minutes, former President Barack Obama is commenting on President Donald Trump's unfounded claims of voter fraud. "They appear to be motivated, in part, because the president doesn't like to lose and never admits loss," Mr. Obama told Scott Pelley in a clip from the interview that aired on "CBS Evening News."

Moreover, the former president says members of the president's party who "go along with" his unfounded claims of election fraud put democracy on a dangerous path. "I'm more troubled by the fact that other Republican officials who clearly know better are going along with this, are humoring him in this fashion," Obama said. "It is one more step in delegitimizing not just the incoming Biden administration, but democracy generally. And that's a dangerous path." more...

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump's administration is taking on the characteristics of a tottering regime -- with its loyalty tests, destabilizing attacks on the military chain of command, a deepening bunker mentality and increasingly delusional claims of political victory. In response, a visibly confident President-elect Joe Biden is going out of his way to project calm amid the deepening chaos, even as Trump and senior Republicans still refuse to acknowledge the President's defeat in a stunning break with America's democratic traditions.

Biden is taking calls with leaders of the country's top allies and appearing on camera, which reflects the inevitability of his ascent to power. Meanwhile the President is staying behind closed doors, tweeting in wild block capital letters and unleashing a purge of the Pentagon's civilian leadership in what one current defense official called "dictator moves." And William Cohen, former Secretary of Defense and Republican senator, told CNN's Don Lemon the administration's conduct is "more akin to a dictatorship than a democracy." The President-elect is reassuring the American people with a composure granted by an election win that Trump's threadbare legal cases baselessly alleging massive voter fraud have little chance of overturning the will of the voters. more...

Officials worry that Trump might fire FBI Director Christopher Wray and CIA Director Gina Haspel next.
By Ken Dilanian

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's decision to abruptly fire his defense secretary underscores the national security concerns posed by what is shaping up to be the most volatile and uncertain presidential transition in modern American history, former officials and experts say. The firing of Mark Esper is raising fears that Trump will fire other key national security officials over the next 10 weeks and use his enormous power in the military and intelligence realm to act rashly before he leaves office.

Speculation is rampant inside and outside the government about whether Trump will also remove FBI Director Christopher Wray or CIA Director Gina Haspel, two experienced security hands who have displeased Trump by resisting some of his demands. Even under the best of circumstances, a presidential transition "is a period when we aren't necessarily firing on all cylinders in terms of the people and processes that manage national security issues for the nation, which creates that sense of heightened vulnerability," Nick Rasmussen, a former head of the National Counterterrorism Center, told NBC News. more...

Non-cooperation could slow Joe Biden’s ability to act on coronavirus and reinstatement of environmental regulations
Tom McCarthy

Donald Trump’s refusal to acknowledge his loss in the 2020 election has fed concerns that the presidential transition would be sabotaged, as a Trump appointee refused to sign off on funding for the transition and the Trump campaign announced an expanded legal strategy in a quest to reverse the election result. The Center for Presidential Transition, a nonpartisan advisory board, urged the Trump administration on Sunday to begin the handoff to staff supporting Joe Biden, whose victory continued to grow in magnitude as states completed their ballot counts.

“We urge the Trump administration to immediately begin the post-election transition process and the Biden team to take full advantage of the resources available under the presidential transition act,” the transition center said in a letter Sunday. “This was a hard-fought campaign, but history is replete with examples of presidents who emerged from such campaigns to graciously assist their successors.”

Neither Trump nor his campaign nor political appointees has the power to stop the transition, and there was no sign that the basic steps toward Biden’s installation as president were at risk of interruption. But non-cooperation by the Trump administration in the transition could slow the ability of some agencies to act on directives by Biden in essential areas such as pandemic response and the reinstatement of environmental regulations, protections for migrants and international accords. more...

‘The 45th President’: One in a series looking back at the Trump presidency
By Lisa Rein, Tom Hamburger, Juliet Eilperin and Andrew Freedman

Early in the new administration, the White House wanted a big win for President Trump on one of his top campaign promises — getting rid of poor performers at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Scott Foster got the order from his boss, a senior political appointee: Draw up a list of underachievers and give “your best 10” so the president could announce their firing at a signing ceremony for a law allowing fast dismissals at VA.

Foster, a seasoned personnel official, balked. The employees still had the right to due process, he argued. Within weeks, his boss tried to sack him. It was one of the first shots in what became an unwavering four-year war on the civil servants who have operated as the backbone of the federal government for more than a century. Career employees from diplomats to budget analysts have come under siege as they carry out the laws of Congress, attacked by a president with no government experience and portrayed as a “deep state” trying to undermine him.

Trump has targeted high-profile figures such as Anthony S. Fauci, a government scientist who has advised six presidents and whose dire warnings about the coronavirus pandemic angered him. He ridiculed Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the decorated Iraq War veteran and Ukraine expert on the National Security Council staff who testified in the inquiry that led to Trump’s impeachment — then he ordered him marched out of his office with his twin brother, another career military officer. Vindman retired in July after what his attorney called a campaign of White House intimidation and retaliation. more...

What trade-offs would a president with this level of indebtedness be willing to make to save face?
By Timothy L. O'Brien

In a tour de force of hard won reporting, the New York Times has put numerical clothing on what we’ve known about President Donald Trump for decades — that, at best, he’s a haphazard businessman, human billboard and serial bankruptcy artist who gorges on debt he may have a hard time repaying. The Times, in a news story published Sunday evening that disclosed years of the president’s tax returns, also put a lot of clothing on things we didn’t know. Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016, the year he was elected president, and the same amount the following year, when he entered the White House. In many years recently he hasn’t paid anything at all. He has played so fast and loose with the taxman that he’s entangled in an audit.

He paid his daughter Ivanka lush consulting fees that he deducted as a business expense even though she helped him manage the Trump Organization. And he’s taken questionable tax write-offs on everything from getting his hair coifed to managing his personal residences. Step away from the tragicomic tawdriness and grift that the tax returns define, however, and focus on what they reveal about Trump as the most powerful man in the world and occupant of the Oval Office. Due to his indebtedness, his reliance on income from overseas and his refusal to authentically distance himself from his hodgepodge of business, Trump represents a profound national security threat – a threat that will only escalate if he’s re-elected. The tax returns also show the extent to which Trump has repeatedly betrayed the interests of many of the average Americans who elected him and remain his most loyal supporters. More...

By Eric Bradner, CNN

(CNN) Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said President Donald Trump "seems to have no conception of what constitutes national security" after Trump revealed in interviews with Bob Woodward the existence of a classified nuclear weapons system. In an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper, the former vice president said Trump's comments to Woodward -- made in a series of 18 interviews for the journalist's upcoming book "Rage" -- were "not a surprise." "You wonder why people in the intelligence community wondered from the very beginning whether you could share data with him, 'cause they don't trust him. They don't trust what he'll say or do," Biden said. "He seems to have no conception of what constitutes national security, no conception of anything other than, what can he do to promote himself?"

Biden cited an Axios report that Trump asked whether nuclear bombs could be dropped in the middle of hurricanes to dissipate them before landfall, which Trump has denied. He also pointed to Trump's comment last year that the Continental Army "took over the airports" from the British in the Revolutionary War, more than a century before airplanes existed. Trump blamed a faulty teleprompter at the time. "This is the guy who said maybe the way to deal with hurricane is drop a nuclear bomb on them. I mean -- seriously, he said it!" Biden said. "I mean, God. Or you know, the problem with the Revolutionary War was they didn't have enough airports. I mean, I just -- it is beyond my comprehension." Biden then pointed to The Atlantic's recent report that Trump had referred to those killed and injured at war "losers" and "suckers." He highlighted his deceased son Beau Biden's service in Kosovo and in the Iraq war, "and all the people with him, the people who died. They're suckers? I mean I can't fathom." More...

By Rebecca Kheel

President Trump bragged about a supposedly secret nuclear weapons system in an interview with Bob Woodward, according to excerpts from the veteran journalist's new book. Trump discussed the weapons system while reflecting on how close the United States and North Korea came to nuclear war in 2017, according to excerpts from “Rage” published Wednesday by The Washington Post, where Woodward is an associate editor. “I have built a nuclear — a weapons system that nobody’s ever had in this country before. We have stuff that you haven’t even seen or heard about,” Trump told Woodward, according to the Post.

“We have stuff that Putin and Xi have never heard about before,” Trump added, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Woodward’s book says unnamed sources later confirmed a new weapons system but would not provide any further details and were surprised that Trump had disclosed it, the Post reported. When reached for comment by The Hill, the Pentagon said it does not have a comment "on a book that hasn’t published yet." Woodward’s book says unnamed sources later confirmed a new weapons system but would not provide any further details and were surprised that Trump had disclosed it, the Post reported. When reached for comment by The Hill, the Pentagon said it does not have a comment "on a book that hasn’t published yet." More...

The former head of the Homeland Security Department’s intelligence division has accused three senior leaders of warping the agency around President Trump’s rhetoric.
By Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Nicholas Fandos

WASHINGTON — Top officials with the Department of Homeland Security directed agency analysts to downplay the threat of violent white supremacy and of Russian election interference, according to a whistle-blower complaint filed by a top intelligence official with the department. Brian Murphy, the former head of the intelligence branch of the Homeland Security Department, said in a whistle-blower complaint filed on Tuesday that he was directed by Chad F. Wolf, the acting secretary of the department, to stop producing assessments on Russian interference. The department’s second highest ranked official, Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, also ordered him to modify intelligence assessments to make the threat of white supremacy “appear less severe” and include information on violent “left-wing” groups, according to the complaint, which was released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee.

In so doing, the two top officials at the department — both appointees of President Trump — appeared to shape the agency’s views around Mr. Trump’s rhetoric and interests. Mr. Murphy, who was removed from his post in August after his office compiled intelligence reports on protesters and journalists in Portland, Ore., asserted in the complaint that he was retaliated against for raising concerns to superiors and cooperating with the department’s inspector general. He asked the inspector general to investigate. “The protected disclosures that prompted the retaliatory personnel actions at issue primarily focused on the compilation of intelligence reports and threat assessments that conflicted with policy objectives set forth by the White House and senior Department of Homeland Security” officials, Mr. Murphy’s lawyers wrote in the 24-page complaint.

“The protected disclosures that prompted the retaliatory personnel actions at issue primarily focused on the compilation of intelligence reports and threat assessments that conflicted with policy objectives set forth by the White House and senior Department of Homeland Security” officials, Mr. Murphy’s lawyers wrote in the 24-page complaint. More...

By Ryan Browne, CNN

Washington (CNN) The top Republican on the House Armed Services committee criticized President Donald Trump for giving "our adversaries an opening" with his recent comments accusing Pentagon leaders he appointed of seeking to fight wars to boost the profits of defense firms. "As a matter of fact, I've been a little dismayed at what's happened the past few days," Rep. Mac Thornberry of Texas said Wednesday when asked about Trump's comments at an event hosted by Defense News. "I know the President says things for effect a lot, but to have a commander in chief question the motivations of military leaders and basically say they're in it for themselves is wrong and it gives our adversaries an opening," he added. Thornberry is retiring at the end of the term and has been willing to criticize the Trump administration over policies including diverting military funds to pay for the border wall.

"You can say well their judgment is wrong or they think too much alike, there's some legitimate issues to discuss. But their motivation, their patriotism, is to me without question, these are remarkable individuals," Thornberry said, adding, "The people who have to send folks into war are the most reluctant to go to war because they've seen it themselves, they've experienced it themselves, they know the cost." The Pentagon has yet to comment directly on the President's comments. The Chief of Staff of the Army, Gen. James McConville, declined to comment directly on the Trump's statement on Tuesday but rejected the idea that military commanders are influenced by defense firms. "I can assure the American people that the senior leaders would only recommend sending our troops to combat when it's required in national security and the last resort. We take this very, very seriously in how we make our recommendations and I think that's all I can really say on that, I feel strongly about that," he said at an event hosted by Defense One. McConville also noted that many of the top military leaders at the Pentagon "have sons and daughters who have gone to combat or may be in combat right now." More...

By Jamie Gangel and Jeremy Herb, CNN

Washington (CNN) President Donald Trump's former top Cabinet officials are among his harshest critics in journalist Bob Woodard's new book "Rage," providing some of the most brutal assessments of the commander in chief to date: "Dangerous." "Unfit." "No moral compass." "Doesn't know the difference between the truth and a lie." Woodward's book paints a devastating portrait of Trump by those who worked in his inner circle. Former Defense Secretary James Mattis, former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, all hired at the start of Trump's presidency, are quoted detailing their frustrations with Trump's inability to focus, their alarm over his refusal to accept facts or listen to experts, their fears over the consequences of his impulsive decision-making -- and one top official even suspected Russian President Vladimir Putin had something on Trump.

The book is filled with searing indictments of Trump. Mattis is quoted criticizing the President both for his chaotic process and ill-advised, go-it-alone policy decisions. When Trump says he wants to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan and South Korea, Mattis privately told Coats, "That's dangerous," Woodward reports. "The President has no moral compass." Coats agreed. He's quoted as saying, "To him, a lie is not a lie. It's just what he thinks. He doesn't know the difference between the truth and a lie." Mattis is quoted as saying Trump took foreign policy actions that showed adversaries "how to destroy America. That's what we're showing them. How to isolate us from all of our allies.

How to take us down. And it's working very well." Woodward conducted hundreds of hours of confidential background interviews with firsthand witnesses for "Rage." Woodward writes that when he attributed quotes to participants, the information comes either from the person, a colleague with direct knowledge, or primary source documents. The damning criticisms from top administration officials are just some of the numerous revelations in "Rage." The book is also based on 18 wide-ranging interviews Woodward conducted with Trump, in which Trump admitted he intentionally downplayed the threat of the coronavirus publicly. More...

By Jamie Gangel, Jeremy Herb and Elizabeth Stuart, CNN

Washington (CNN) President Donald Trump admitted he knew weeks before the first confirmed US coronavirus death that the virus was dangerous, airborne, highly contagious and "more deadly than even your strenuous flus," and that he repeatedly played it down publicly, according to legendary journalist Bob Woodward in his new book "Rage." "This is deadly stuff," Trump told Woodward on February 7. In a series of interviews with Woodward, Trump revealed that he had a surprising level of detail about the threat of the virus earlier than previously known. "Pretty amazing," Trump told Woodward, adding that the coronavirus was maybe five times "more deadly" than the flu. Trump's admissions are in stark contrast to his frequent public comments at the time insisting that the virus was "going to disappear" and "all work out fine."

The book, using Trump's own words, depicts a President who has betrayed the public trust and the most fundamental responsibilities of his office. In "Rage," Trump says the job of a president is "to keep our country safe." But in early February, Trump told Woodward he knew how deadly the virus was, and in March, admitted he kept that knowledge hidden from the public. "I wanted to always play it down," Trump told Woodward on March 19, even as he had declared a national emergency over the virus days earlier. "I still like playing it down, because I don't want to create a panic." If instead of playing down what he knew, Trump had acted decisively in early February with a strict shutdown and a consistent message to wear masks, social distance and wash hands, experts believe that thousands of American lives could have been saved. *** Trump does not give a shit about Americans he only cares about winning the election and will put more lives at risk to do so. *** more...


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump campaign’s interactions with Russian intelligence services during the 2016 presidential election posed a “grave” counterintelligence threat, a Senate panel concluded Tuesday as it detailed how associates of Donald Trump had regular contact with Russians and expected to benefit from the Kremlin’s help.

The nearly 1,000-page report, the fifth and final one from the Republican-led Senate intelligence committee on the Russia investigation, details how Russia launched an aggressive effort to interfere in the election on Trump’s behalf. It says the Trump campaign chairman had regular contact with a Russian intelligence officer and that other Trump associates were eager to exploit the Kremlin’s aid, particularly by maximizing the impact of the disclosure of Democratic emails hacked by Russian intelligence officers.

The report is the culmination of a bipartisan probe that produced what the committee called “the most comprehensive description to date of Russia’s activities and the threat they posed.” The investigation spanned more than three years as the panel’s leaders said they wanted to thoroughly document the unprecedented attack on U.S. elections.

The findings, including unflinching characterizations of furtive interactions between Trump associates and Russian operatives, echo to a large degree those of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and appear to repudiate the Republican president’s claims that the FBI had no basis to investigate whether his campaign was conspiring with Russia. Trump, who has repeatedly called the Russia investigations a “hoax,” said Tuesday he “didn’t know anything about” the report, or Russia or Ukraine. He said he had “nothing” to do with Russia.

Wynne Davis

Congressional Democrats are calling the director of national intelligence's cancellation of additional in-person election security briefings "outrageous," after the change was announced on Friday. Election Day is about nine weeks away. Congress will still be briefed on election security by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, but through written reports instead of verbal briefings. In a letter to congressional leaders, John Ratcliffe — a former Texas Republican congressman who was confirmed as director of national intelligence in May — wrote that he believes the change "helps ensure, to the maximum extent possible, that the information ODNI provides the Congress ... is not misunderstood nor politicized." President Trump said Saturday that Ratcliffe was ending the briefings in order to prevent leaks. The change comes just weeks after a top counterintelligence official warned about ongoing interference and influence efforts by Russia, China and Iran.

By Jake Tapper and Zachary Cohen, CNN

(CNN) The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has informed the House and Senate Select Committees on Intelligence that it'll no longer be briefing on election security issues, according to letters obtained by CNN. Instead, ODNI will primarily provide written updates to the congressional panels, a senior administration official said. The official added that other agencies supporting election security, including the Department of Justice, Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security, intend to continue briefing Congress. Still, the abrupt announcement is a change that runs counter to the pledge of transparency and regular briefings on election threats by the intelligence community.

It also comes after the top intelligence official on election security issued a statement earlier this month saying China, Russia and Iran are seeking to interfere in the 2020 US election, a warning that prompted some backlash from Democrats on Capitol Hill who have continued to push for the public release of more information about the nature of those efforts. President Donald Trump said Saturday that Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe "got tired of" information leaking "so, he wants to do it in a different form." "Director Ratcliffe brought information into the committee, and the information leaked," Trump said at an event in Texas. "So, he wants to do it in a different form because you have leakers on the committee, obviously, leakers that are doing bad things, probably not even legal to leak, but we'll look into that separately," Trump said.

In response to Trump's accusations about leaks, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff tweeted, "As usual, President Trump is lying and projecting. Trump fired the last DNI for briefing Congress on Russian efforts to help his campaign. Now he's ending briefings altogether. Trump doesn't want the American people to know about Russia's efforts to aid his re-election."

'Shocking abdication' of lawful responsibility
Although the letter from the ODNI to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is stamped as having been delivered Friday, a source in the speaker's office said the office only received the letter Saturday evening after 5 p.m., via email, hours after the story broke on CNN and hours after CNN obtained a copy of it. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer only received his letter late Saturday, too, according to a Schumer aide. The House Intelligence Committee received verbal notification of the change on Friday, without rationale, it but did not receive the ODNI letter until Saturday after 5 p.m., a source said, and the Senate Intelligence Committee received it at 5:10 p.m. Democratic leaders on Saturday denounced the decision by the ODNI to no longer provide in-person briefings to members of Congress, including the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, on election security.

Democrats counter that Republicans are trying to suppress votes.

Top White House and campaign aides fanned out on Sunday to defend President Donald Trump’s opposition to universal mail-in voting, casting widespread access to voting amid a global pandemic as a disaster waiting to happen.

Top Democrats, meanwhile, called on officials with the U.S. Postal Service to testify before a congressional committee next week, a high-stakes hearing that would occur on the opening day of the Republican National Convention. The split screen comes as the Postal Service has emerged as a top political issue, with Democrats asking for $25 billion in funding and the president candidly observing in a Fox Business Network interview last week that leaving the service without aid would make universal mail-in voting impossible. The Postal Service has already sent letters to 46 states and Washington, D.C., warning that some ballots might not arrive in time to be counted for the November election.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic leaders on Saturday discussed whether to reconvene the House, which is currently in recess, to address the Postal Service crisis. Pelosi and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, on Sunday invited Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and the chairman of the Postal Service Board of Governors, Robert Duncan, to testify at a hearing next Monday.

“The hearing will examine the sweeping operational and organizational changes at the Postal Service that experts warn could degrade delivery standards, slow the mail and potentially impair the rights of eligible Americans to cast their votes through the mail in the upcoming November elections,” they said in a statement. “The Postmaster General and top Postal Service leadership must answer to the Congress and the American people as to why they are pushing these dangerous new policies that threaten to silence the voices of millions, just months before the election.”

Tom Porter

President Donald Trump is fixated on mail-in ballots and spends considerable time trying to figure out how to "block" such voting, a senior administration source told The Washington Post. According to the source, the president spends considerable time "reading news reports and other materials about mail-in ballots, talking about the topic with his advisers and thinking about how to block such voting."

The Post reports that Trump recently met with congressional Republicans to air his concerns, citing a recent election fraud case in New Jersey.Election experts told NPR is very rare and highlighted the effectiveness of existing measures to guard against fraud. White House spokeswoman Sarah Matthews defended Trump in a statement to the Post, and said he's working "to ensure the security and integrity of our elections."

President Trump’s furious objection to mail-in balloting and a new Trump-allied postmaster general are raising fears about the election and the Postal Service.
By Luke Broadwater, Jack Healy, Michael D. Shear and Hailey Fuchs

DARBY, Pa. — Each day, when Nick Casselli, the president of a Philadelphia postal workers union, sits down at his desk on Main Street in this historic town where trolley cars still run and the post office is a source of civic pride, his phone is full of alarmed messages about increasing delays in mail delivery. Mr. Casselli and his 1,600 members have been in a state of high alert since Louis DeJoy, a Republican megadonor and an ally of President Trump’s, took over as postmaster general in May. Overtime was eliminated, prompting backups. Seven mail-sorting machines were removed from a nearby processing center in West Philadelphia, causing further delays. Now, post offices are being told to open later and close during lunch.

“I have some customers banging on my people’s doors: ‘Open up!’” Mr. Casselli said. “I’ve never seen that in my whole 35-year postal career.” Similar accounts of slowdowns and curtailed service are emerging across the country as Mr. DeJoy pushes cost-cutting measures that he says are intended to overhaul an agency suffering billion-dollar losses. But as Mr. Trump rails almost daily against the service and delays clog the mail, voters and postal workers warn a crisis is building that could disenfranchise record numbers of Americans who will be casting ballots by mail in November because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large

(CNN) Sometimes -- OK, a lot of times -- Donald Trump says the quiet part out loud. Like during an interview on Fox Business with Maria Bartiromo on Thursday morning when Trump flatly admitted the real reason why he is blocking the inclusion of any money for the United States Postal Service in a coronavirus relief bill in Congress. Here's exactly what he said: "They want $3.5 billion for something that will turn out to be fraudulent, that's election money basically. They want $3.5 trillion -- billion dollars for the mail-in votes, OK, universal mail-in ballots, $3.5 trillion. They want $25 billion, billion, for the Post Office. Now they need that money in order to have the Post Office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots... " ... Now, if we don't make a deal, that means they don't get the money. That means they can't have universal mail-in voting, they just can't have it. So, you know, sort of a crazy thing. Very interesting." Let's be very, very clear about what Trump is saying here.

1) Democrats want funding in a coronavirus relief bill for the Postal Service.

2) They want that money so that the USPS can adequately deal with what is expected to be a major surge in mail-in and absentee balloting due to concerns about in-person voting spreading Covid-19.

3) Trump refuses to give them that money -- or include it in any sort of deal -- because, without it, there won't be the ability for the people to cast more mail-in ballots, or -- and this is really important -- for election officials to effectively count them all.

So, yeah. (And that's putting aside the fact that in blocking the coronavirus bill because of the money allotted for the Postal Service, the President is blocking a whole lot of other things, including increased education funding and rent/mortgage assistance, that many people in the country badly need.) This is the President of the United States purposely trying to make it harder for votes to be counted. Why? Because he believes that mail-in balloting is ripe for fraud. The problem with that view is that it is simply not supported by any real data. While Trump likes to focus on 500,000 absentee ballot applications being sent with the wrong return address in Virginia recently, the truth of the matter is that while mistakes like that one can get made, there's just no evidence of widespread purposeful voting fraud.

By Jeffrey Toobin

On March 21, 1973, President Richard Nixon and John Dean, the White House counsel, conferred in the Oval Office about ways to keep the Watergate scandal from consuming the Administration. The two men weighed the possibility of a pardon or commutation for E. Howard Hunt, one of the Watergate burglars. “Hunt’s now demanding clemency or he’s going to blow,” Dean said. “And, politically, it’d be impossible for, you know, you to do it.” Nixon agreed: “That’s right.” Dean continued, “I’m not sure that you’ll ever be able to deliver on clemency. It may be just too hot.” Neither Nixon nor Dean had especially refined senses of morality or legal ethics, but even they seemed to understand that a President could not use his pardon power to erase charges against someone who might offer testimony implicating Nixon himself in a crime.

To do so, they recognized, would be too unseemly, too transparent, too egregiously corrupt. And, in fact, Nixon never gave a pardon, or commuted a sentence, of anyone implicated in the Watergate scandal. But, on Friday night, Donald Trump commuted the prison sentence of Roger Stone, his associate and political mentor of more than three decades. Last year, Stone was convicted of obstruction of justice, lying to Congress, and witness tampering in a case brought by Robert Mueller, the special counsel. William Barr, the Attorney General, had already overridden the sentencing recommendation of the prosecutors who tried the case—a nearly unprecedented act—and Stone was ultimately sentenced to forty months in prison. But Barr’s unseemly interference in the case was somehow not enough for the President, so Trump made sure that Stone would serve no time at all. The only trace of shame in Trump’s announcement was that he delivered it on a Friday night—supposedly when the public is least attentive.

Kevin Johnson USA TODAY

Former Russia special counsel Robert Mueller pushed back against President Donald Trump on Saturday, defending the prosecution of Roger Stone and the larger investigation into Russia interference in the 2016 election, saying that the flamboyant political operative was "prosecuted and convicted because he committed federal crimes." "He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so," Mueller said in a column published Saturday in The Washington Post. Mueller's remarks, prompted by Trump's commutation of Stone's 40-month prison sentence Friday, are the first since he testified before a House committee nearly a year ago after his team brought charges against at least a half-dozen former Trump aides during his campaign and after he took office. Stone was the last person charged by the Mueller team during the nearly two-year Russia investigation. "Russia’s actions were a threat to America’s democracy," Mueller wrote. "It was critical that they be investigated and understood." Mueller said the FBI had evidence that the Russians had signaled to a Trump campaign adviser that they could assist the campaign through the anonymous release of information damaging to the Democratic candidate.

Resolve after appalling Roger Stone commutation: Don't let Donald Trump break us, America.
COVID and Trump have brought America to its knees. The utter failure of our system has allowed him to scale new heights of corruption each week.
Jill Lawrence USA TODAY

This is truly the cul-de-sac presidency. Every avenue of potential accountability is a dead end. Donald Trump and his many enablers have made sure of it. Now comes the Roger Stone protection racket, the Trump commutation that means his friend Stone will serve no prison time for seven felony convictions that include lying and witness-tampering to protect — who else? — Trump, in the special counsel's Russia investigation. It is no less stunning for its inevitability, inspiring disgust across the political spectrum from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (“staggering corruption”)  to Utah Sen. Mitt Romney (“unprecedented, historic corruption”). This latest example of Trump TLC for a fellow swamp creature came a day after the Supreme Court affirmed presidents are not above the law while all but assuring that Trump himself will be on the ballot Nov. 3 without having to show anyone the tax returns and other financial records that could solve mysteries like why he is so solicitous of Russia, China and their leaders. For all intents and purposes, another cul-de-sac.

America brought low by Trump, COVID
It was also a day after I canceled, with a heavy heart, an August trip to California to see my sons. We were supposed to meet up with them in Salt Lake City in April, but we had to cancel that trip, too. We are all healthy and, assuming we don’t contract COVID-19, we will survive a separation that is heading toward a year or more. But it hurts.

'Unprecedented, Historic Corruption': Romney Joins Critics Of Stone's Commutation
Colin Dwyer

Democrats have had no shortage of descriptors for President Trump's decision to commute Roger Stone's prison sentence. Since Trump granted clemency to his longtime confidant Friday night, Democratic lawmakers have described it as "appalling," "despicable," an abuse of power and a "mockery of our democracy." Yet some harsh words Saturday came from a voice within his own party as well. "An American president commutes the sentence of a person convicted by a jury of lying to shield that very president," Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, tweeted Saturday morning, describing the move as "unprecedented, historic corruption." The comments come less than a day after Stone received his reprieve from the White House. That call came down Friday night, when Trump abruptly relieved his close adviser of his 40-month prison sentence for lying to Congress, obstructing its investigation and witness tampering. A jury last fall found that Stone supplied lawmakers with false statements during their probe into the 2016 presidential election, in an effort to cover up his outreach to WikiLeaks. The group had obtained — and eventually released — thousands of hacked Democratic emails. In February, Stone received a lighter sentence than he could have gotten — but that did not satisfy the president, a longtime friend of the GOP political operative.

By Chauncey Devega, Salon

For four years Donald Trump has willfully and repeatedly violated the presidential oath of office and its promise to “faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States,” and “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”It now appears that Trump was aware — perhaps for as much as a year — that Russian agents had placed bounties on the heads of American soldiers serving in Afghanistan. That’s only the most recent example of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office.Former national security adviser John Bolton’s new book “The Room Where It Happened,” in conjunction with new investigative reporting from CNN shows Trump to be reckless, out of control, negligent, delusional, corrupt, incompetent and thoroughly unfit to lead the United States both domestically and internationally. Carl Bernstein’s reporting for CNN paints a particularly damning portrait: As many of the nation’s and the world’s leading mental health professionals have warned, Trump appears mentally unwell in the extreme. His evident mental pathologies, likely including malignant narcissism, an addiction to violence, a God complex and near-psychotic levels of delusional thinking, have only served to exacerbate his many defects of character and values. In total, Donald Trump is unfit to be president of the United States. If he is not removed from office by the 2020 election, he will continue to pose an extreme threat to the health and safety of the American people and the world.

By Sarah K. Burris

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) revealed in her weekly press briefing that the Russian sanctions bill had sanctions that specifically targeted Russian intelligence, known as the GRU. But those sanctions were stripped out of the bill. “We passed in a bipartisan way, sanctions on Russia. The administration told us to take out the sanctions against the GRU, the intelligence as well as the defense sectors of Russia. Those should definitely be — those were there in a bipartisan way. The administration wanted them out. I don’t know why,” Pelosi said, throwing her arms in the air. She went on to say that the investigation into the Russian bounty on Americans shouldn’t distract from the fact that Russia is trying to interfere with U.S. elections, or that “all roads through this president lead to Putin.” It was reported by the New York Times this week that the money sent to the Taliban for the heads of American soldiers went from GRU accounts to the Afghani militants.

Opinion by Greg Sargent

With President Trump, it’s often difficult to locate the point where his utter lack of self awareness blends into sheer shamelessness. This poses an urgent problem with the spin he is now offering amid revelations that U.S. intelligence indicated Russia may have paid bounties to Taliban-linked militias for the killing of U.S. troops. Trump is now defending himself not just by claiming he wasn’t briefed on that intelligence, or just by contesting the significance of that intelligence. Instead, he’s declaring that the entire story simply doesn’t exist — that is, he’s suggesting no intelligence ever actually indicated anything like this. Yet this defense is itself deeply self-incriminating. It only underscores what critics are saying — that at minimum, Trump should be taking this intelligence seriously and trying to get to the bottom of what it actually does indicate, even if the worst interpretation proves wrong.

By Charles Davis

President Donald Trump seems desperate to win the approval of Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, anonymous US officials told CNN, with one source describing calls between the leaders as "two guys in a steam bath." Sources within the Trump administration said the president was "inordinately solicitous of Putin's admiration and seemingly seeking his approval," according to CNN's Carl Bernstein. Two US officials said Trump had "naively elevated" Russia "to almost parity with the United States." "He's playing with something he doesn't understand," one official said, "and he's giving them power that they would use [aggressively]."

By Andrew Solender - Forbes Staff Business

A report from CNN’s Carl Bernstein based on anonymous sources alleges that President Trump is regularly unprepared and out of his depth in phone calls with world leaders, in which he frequently bullies U.S. allies and gets outplayed by enemies, with people familiar with the calls describing them as national security threats that would cause senior Republicans to lose confidence in the president. Senior U.S. officials, including former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, former Chief of Staff John Kelly and former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, reportedly felt that Trump “posed a danger to the national security of the United States” in his phone calls with world leaders and concluded that he was often “delusional.”

“The sources said there was little evidence that the President became more skillful or competent in his telephone conversations with most heads of state over time,” Bernstein writes. “Rather, he continued to believe that he could either charm, jawbone or bully almost any foreign leader into capitulating to his will, and often pursued goals more attuned to his own agenda than what many of his senior advisers considered the national interest.” Trump would reportedly bash his predecessors, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, in phone calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Erdoğan, who consistently “outplay” Trump, with one source “comparing the Russian leader to a chess grandmaster and Trump to an occasional player of checkers.”

Calls with allies fared no better, particularly with female heads of state like former British Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who Trump frequently labelled “stupid” and accused of being in the pocket of the Russians in calls so egregious the German government took “special measures” to keep them secret, Bernstein writes.

The recovery of large amounts of American cash at a Taliban outpost in Afghanistan helped tip off U.S. officials. It is believed that at least one U.S. troop death was the result of the bounties.
By Eric Schmitt, Adam Goldman and Nicholas Fandos

WASHINGTON — United States intelligence officers and Special Operations forces in Afghanistan alerted their superiors as early as January to a suspected Russian plot to pay bounties to the Taliban to kill American troops in Afghanistan, according to officials briefed on the matter. They believed at least one U.S. troop death was the result of the bounties, two of the officials said. The crucial information that led the spies and commandos to focus on the bounties included the recovery of a large amount of American cash from a raid on a Taliban outpost that prompted suspicions. Interrogations of captured militants and criminals played a central role in making the intelligence community confident in its assessment that the Russians had offered and paid bounties in 2019, another official has said. Armed with this information, military and intelligence officials have been reviewing American and other coalition combat casualties over the past 18 months to determine whether any were victims of the plot. Four Americans were killed in combat in early 2020, but the Taliban have not attacked American positions since a February agreement to end the long-running war in Afghanistan.

By Devan Cole, CNN

Washington (CNN) Former White House national security adviser John Bolton said Sunday that President Donald Trump denying in a tweet he was briefed on intelligence that Russians had tried to bribe Taliban fighters to kill US troops shows Trump's "fundamental focus" is not on the United States' national security. "The fact that the President feels compelled to tweet about the news story here shows that what his fundamental focus is, is not the security of our forces, but whether he looks like he wasn't paying attention. So he's saying well nobody told me therefore you can't blame me," Bolton told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union." The former official added that he believed Trump's motivation for denying a briefing is "because it looks bad if Russians are paying to kill Americans and we're not doing anything about it." "So what is the presidential reaction? It's to say it's not my responsibility, nobody told me about it," Bolton said.

By David Smith in Washington

The president has had a difficult period and is trailing his rival by double digits. But he has time to fight back – and fight dirty. It was the death of a salesman. With tie undone and crumpled “Make America great again” cap in hand, Donald Trump cut a forlorn figure shambling across the White House south lawn on his return from his failed comeback rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Some observers likened him to Willy Loman, the tragic protagonist of Arthur Miller’s benchmark drama. The US president, critics say, has spent years selling a bill of goods to the American people. Now they are no longer buying. The thinly attended rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, last weekend was the physical manifestation of what poll after poll is showing: Trump is trailing his Democratic rival Joe Biden by double digits and seemingly on course for a historic defeat in November’s presidential election.

By Max Boot Columnist

After the “Saturday Night Massacre” in 1973, Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor who had just been fired by President Richard M. Nixon, wondered “whether ours shall continue to be a government of laws and not of men." That question is now more urgent and unresolved than ever as President Trump mounts a destabilizing, dangerous assault on the checks and balances of our constitutional system. A series of judicial decisions in the past week reminds us that the rule of law still exists in the United States — that we do not, as yet, live in Turkey, Hungary or Russia, former democracies ruled by three of Trump’s favorite autocrats. The Supreme Court ruled against the administration by protecting gay and transgender employees from workplace discrimination and by protecting “dreamers" — young people brought to the United States without documentation — from deportation for the time being. A few days later, a federal judge in Washington ruled against Trump’s attempts to block the publication of former national security adviser John Bolton’s scathing memoir.

The presidency of Donald Trump has already generated a long reading list, but the latest offering from former National Security Adviser John Bolton has attracted more attention than most, given the author's high-ranking status and the nature of his claims.

His work - The Room Where It Happened - portrays a president ignorant of basic geopolitical facts and whose decisions were frequently driven by a desire for re-election. Critics of Mr Trump have asked why Mr Bolton did not speak up during impeachment hearings, while the president himself has called his former top adviser on security matters "incompetent" and a "boring old fool". The White House is trying to stop the book's release, but US media have obtained advance copies and have started publishing details from it. Here are some of the most eye-catching allegations.

1. Trump wanted help from China to win re-election...
In the book, Mr Bolton describes a meeting between President Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at a G20 meeting in Japan last year. The US president "stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming US presidential election [in 2020], alluding to China's economic capability and pleading with Xi to ensure he'd win," Mr Bolton writes.

In an ABC interview, Bolton says Trump was singularly focused on reelection.
By Conor Finnegan

President Donald Trump is not "fit for office" and doesn't have "the competence to carry out the job," his former national security adviser John Bolton told ABC News in an exclusive interview. In an explosive new book about his 17 months at the White House, Bolton characterizes Trump as "stunningly uninformed," ignorant of basic facts and easily manipulated by foreign adversaries. But his assessment that Trump is not "fit" to be president is among the most stunning indictments of a sitting president by one of their own top advisers in American history.  "There really isn't any guiding principle that I was able to discern other than what's good for Donald Trump's reelection," Bolton told ABC News chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz. "He was so focused on the reelection that longer-term considerations fell by the wayside," he added.

By George T. Conway III - Contributing columnist

John Bolton made a mistake. It’s not the one you may think it is. The former national security adviser’s memoir about his experiences working for President Trump will arrive on June 23. For months, the book has triggered criticism that Bolton put commercial profit over country by saving his depiction of Trump for the book, instead of providing it under oath during Trump’s impeachment proceedings last winter. A new wave of such criticism hit Bolton on Friday, when his publisher revealed more about what’s in the book. In short: Trump is as bad as we thought, perhaps worse. According to the publisher, Bolton will describe Trump as “a president for whom getting reelected was the only thing that mattered, even if it meant endangering or weakening the nation.” Bolton even “argues that the House committed impeachment malpractice by keeping their prosecution focused narrowly on Ukraine when Trump’s Ukraine-like transgressions existed across the full range of his foreign policy.”

In an extraordinary condemnation, the former defense secretary backs protesters and says the president is trying to turn Americans against one another.
By Jeffrey Goldberg

James Mattis, the esteemed Marine general who resigned as secretary of defense in December 2018 to protest Donald Trump’s Syria policy, has, ever since, kept studiously silent about Trump’s performance as president. But he has now broken his silence, writing an extraordinary broadside in which he denounces the president for dividing the nation, and accuses him of ordering the U.S. military to violate the constitutional rights of American citizens. “I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled,” Mattis writes. “The words ‘Equal Justice Under Law’ are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand—one that all of us should be able to get behind. We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values—our values as people and our values as a nation.” He goes on, “We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution.” In his j’accuse, Mattis excoriates the president for setting Americans against one another. “Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us,” Mattis writes. “We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children.” He goes on to contrast the American ethos of unity with Nazi ideology. “Instructions given by the military departments to our troops before the Normandy invasion reminded soldiers that ‘The Nazi slogan for destroying us … was “Divide and Conquer.” Our American answer is “In Union there is Strength.”’ We must summon that unity to surmount this crisis—confident that we are better than our politics.” “When I joined the military, some 50 years ago,” he writes, “I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens—much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside.”

By Alexandra Hutzler

After Attorney General William Barr criticized the president for making his job "impossible," Donald Trump asserted Friday that he has the "legal right" to interfere with criminal cases handled by the Department of Justice. But former DOJ officials warn that any interference by the president in criminal prosecutions, while not illegal, is a highly unusual move that would undermine the country's justice system.

“The President has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case.” A.G. Barr This doesn’t mean that I do not have, as President, the legal right to do so, I do, but I have so far chosen not to!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 14, 2020

"The president arguably, as head of the executive branch, has the constitutional authority and discretion to give direction to the Department of Justice or any other executive branch. But it is grossly improper and an abuse of that discretion for the president to seek to influence a criminal investigation," David Laufman, the DOJ's former counterintelligence chief, told Newsweek. He added that throughout the history of the Justice Department there have been "explicit understandings" in how the White House can communicate with the law enforcement agency—until now. "I can't think of any president in recent modern history that has repeatedly made public statements about pending criminal investigations, prosecutions or trials with the intent to influence them," Laufman said. Former Watergate prosecutor Nick Akerman agreed, noting that there's nothing in the Constitution preventing Trump from telling the attorney general how to handle a certain case but that it's "just never done." "It's never done because it looks like the president is interfering in the system of justice, that he is putting his own personal beliefs on top of what we want as even-handed enforcement of our criminal law," Akerman told Newsweek. "This is something unique to Donald Trump."

By Paul Sonne, Josh Dawsey, Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller

President Trump has routinely communicated with his personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, and other individuals speaking on cellphones vulnerable to monitoring by Russian and other foreign intelligence services, current and former U.S. officials said.

Phone records released this week by the House Intelligence Committee revealed extensive communications between Giuliani, unidentified people at the White House and others involved in the campaign to pressure Ukraine, with no indication that those calls were encrypted or otherwise shielded from foreign surveillance.

The revelations raise the possibility that Moscow was able to learn about aspects of Trump’s attempt to get Ukraine to investigate a political rival months before that effort was exposed by a whistleblower report and the impeachment inquiry, officials said.

Trump is not identified by name in the House phone records, but investigators said they suspect he may be a person with a blocked number listed as “-1” in the files. And administration officials said separately that Trump has communicated regularly with Giuliani on unsecured lines.

By Steve Benen

The House Intelligence Committee this week released a new report on Donald Trump’s Ukraine scandal, which included phone records that pointed to a familiar concern: the president continues to use unsecured telephones. That includes frequent communications with Rudy Giuliani – while the former mayor was abroad – that the Washington Post reported were “vulnerable to monitoring by Russian and other foreign intelligence services.”

The revelations raise the possibility that Moscow was able to learn about aspects of Trump’s attempt to get Ukraine to investigate a political rival months before that effort was exposed by a whistleblower report and the impeachment inquiry, officials said. […]

The disclosures provide fresh evidence suggesting that the president continues to defy the security guidance urged by his aides and followed by previous incumbents – a stance that is particularly remarkable given Trump’s attacks on Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential campaign for her use of a private email account while serving as secretary of state. The problem, of course, extends beyond breathtaking hypocrisy. By willfully ignoring security guidance, Trump has created a vulnerability that Russia could exploit to advance its interests over ours.

The Post spoke to John Sipher, former deputy chief of Russia operations at the CIA, who said the Republican president and his lawyer have effectively “given the Russians ammunition they can use in an overt fashion, a covert fashion or in the twisting of information.” He added that it’s so likely that Russia tracked these calls that the Kremlin probably knows more now about those conversations than impeachment investigators. The same article noted that Trump has “absolutely” created a security issue by using lines vulnerable to interception and blowing off aides who’ve tried to steer the president in more responsible directions.

And in case that weren’t quite enough, the Post reported that after White House officials made “a concerted attempt” in 2017 to have Trump use secure White House lines, the president came to realize this meant officials such as then-White House Chief of Staff John Kelly would know to whom Trump was speaking. The president considered this unacceptable and “reverted to using his cellphone.”

CBS News - National Security Council expert Fiona Hill confirmed during her testimony on Thursday that President Trump ignored his top advisors when they informed him that the cospiracy theory that Ukraine was involved in the 2016 U.S. election interference was indeed false. Asked if she believed President Trump "instead listened to Rudy Giuliani's views," she responded: "That appears to be the case, yes." State Department official David Holmes said Russia wanted to deflect responsibility for its own interference and drive a wedge between the U.S. and Ukraine. Video

Retired Adm. William McRaven says Trump doesn’t believe in the ideals that made America great
By Mike Murphy

The U.S. commander who oversaw the raid that killed Osama bin Laden says the U.S. is under attack again — “but from within,” and it’s the president doing it. In a scathing op-ed published Thursday by the New York Times, retired Adm. William McRaven, former chief of the U.S. Special Operations Command, said it may be time for the U.S. to get a new president, since President Donald Trump is not a capable leader. “The America that they believed in was under attack, not from without, but from within.” Retired Adm. William McRaven McRaven said he was struck by the men and women who serve — and have served — America who he said now harbor “an underlying current of frustration, humiliation, anger and fear” because of Trumps’s words and deeds. “As I stood on the parade field at Fort Bragg, one retired four-star general, grabbed my arm, shook me and shouted, ‘I don’t like the Democrats, but Trump is destroying the Republic!’” he wrote. McRaven said America’s greatness is reflected in its ideals. “We are the most powerful nation in the world because our ideals of universal freedom and equality have been backed up by our belief that we were champions of justice, the protectors of the less fortunate.” “President Trump seems to believe that these qualities are unimportant or show weakness. He is wrong,” he said. “And if this president doesn’t understand their importance, if this president doesn’t demonstrate the leadership that America needs, both domestically and abroad, then it is time for a new person in the Oval Office — Republican, Democrat or independent — the sooner, the better. The fate of our Republic depends upon it.” more...

If President Trump doesn’t demonstrate the leadership that America needs, then it is time for a new person in the Oval Office.
By William H. McRaven

Last week I attended two memorable events that reminded me why we care so very much about this nation and also why our future may be in peril. The first was a change of command ceremony for a storied Army unit in which one general officer passed authority to another. The second event was an annual gala for the Office of Strategic Services (O.S.S.) Society that recognizes past and present members of the intelligence and Special Operations community for their heroism and sacrifice to the nation. What struck me was the stark contrast between the words and deeds heralded at those events — and the words and deeds emanating from the White House. On the parade field at Fort Bragg, N.C., where tens of thousands of soldiers have marched either preparing to go to war or returning from it, the two generals, highly decorated, impeccably dressed, cleareyed and strong of character, were humbled by the moment. They understood the awesome responsibility that the nation had placed on their shoulders. They understood that they had an obligation to serve their soldiers and their soldiers’ families. They believed in the American values for which they had been fighting for the past three decades. They had faith that these values were worth sacrificing everything for — including, if necessary, their lives. Having served with both officers for the past 20 years, I know that they personified all that is good and decent and honorable about the American military with genuineness of their humility, their uncompromising integrity, their willingness to sacrifice all for a worthy cause, and the pride they had in their soldiers. Later that week, at the O.S.S. Society dinner, there were films and testimonials to the valor of the men and women who had fought in Europe and the Pacific during World War II. We also celebrated the 75th anniversary of D-Day, recognizing those brave Americans and allies who sacrificed so much to fight Nazism and fascism. We were reminded that the Greatest Generation went to war because it believed that we were the good guys — that wherever there was oppression, tyranny or despotism, America would be there. We would be there because freedom mattered. We would be there because the world needed us and if not us, then who? Also that evening we recognized the incredible sacrifice of a new generation of Americans: an Army Special Forces warrant officer who had been wounded three times, the most recent injury costing him his left leg above the knee. He was still in uniform and still serving. There was an intelligence officer, who embodied the remarkable traits of those men and women who had served in the O.S.S. And a retired Marine general, whose 40 years of service demonstrated all that was honorable about the Corps and public service. But the most poignant recognition that evening was for a young female sailor who had been killed in Syria serving alongside our allies in the fight against ISIS. Her husband, a former Army Green Beret, accepted the award on her behalf. Like so many that came before her, she had answered the nation’s call and willingly put her life in harm’s way. For everyone who ever served in uniform, or in the intelligence community, for those diplomats who voice the nation’s principles, for the first responders, for the tellers of truth and the millions of American citizens who were raised believing in American values — you would have seen your reflection in the faces of those we honored last week. But, beneath the outward sense of hope and duty that I witnessed at these two events, there was an underlying current of frustration, humiliation, anger and fear that echoed across the sidelines. The America that they believed in was under attack, not from without, but from within. more...

By Devan Cole, CNN

Washington (CNN) - President Donald Trump told two top Russian officials that he was unconcerned about the country's interference in the 2016 election during a 2017 Oval Office meeting, a remark that caused White House officials to tightly restrict access to his comments, The Washington Post reported Friday. The Post, citing conversations with three former officials with knowledge of the matter, said Trump made the statement to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the same meeting in which Trump discussed highly classified intelligence with the foreign officials. The former officials told the paper that a summary of the meeting was kept highly restricted to keep Trump's comment from getting out to the public, the Post reported. According to the paper, Trump told the officials that he was unconcerned about Russia's interference because the US "did the same in other countries." The White House's handling of records of Trump's communications with foreign officials has come under scrutiny in recent days after a whistleblower complaint about a call between Trump and Ukraine's President and the remarkable steps aides took to keep the conversation from becoming public led to a House impeachment inquiry into the President's conduct. The Post said it was unclear whether the summary of the meeting was placed in the same highly secured electronic system that the whistleblower alleges held the phone call with Ukraine's President. According to the three former officials the paper spoke with, White House officials were especially concerned with Trump's election interference remarks because it seemed to them that Trump was forgiving the Russians for interfering in the 2016 election. Special counsel Robert Mueller determined the Russians had interfered in the election and had worked to elect Trump, though there was no evidence the campaign conspired with the Russians. more...

“That is treason. It’s treason pure and simple, and the penalty for treason under the U.S. code is death,” Bill Weld told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe “That’s the only penalty.”
By Barbie Latza Nadeau

Former Massachusetts Governor and Republican presidential challenger Bill Weld said Monday that President Donald Trump’s “acts of treason” in pressuring Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden deserved the death penalty. “That is treason. It’s treason pure and simple, and the penalty for treason under the U.S. code is death,” Weld told MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “That’s the only penalty.” Weld made the shocking statement in a joint appearance with fellow GOP presidential challengers Joe Walsh and Mark Sanford, who are protesting state Republican parties that have decided to cancel primaries to give the edge to the sitting president. “Obviously, canceling primaries undermines democratic institutions and democratic elections, but that’s far from the deepest dive crime that the president has committed here,” Weld said, referring to the growing calls for clarification about Trump’s actions toward Ukraine and the withholding of military funds in the weeks before a July 25 call in which he admitted to discussing an investigation of Hunter Biden. Biden’s son had business dealings in Ukraine at the same time then-Vice President Biden was tasked with overseeing the Obama administration’s Ukraine policy. Trump made the call when he already knew Biden would challenge him in the 2020 presidential election. “He has now acknowledged that in a single phone call right after he suspended $250 million of military aid to Ukraine, he called up the president of Ukraine and pressed him eight times to investigate Joe Biden, who the president thinks is going to be running against him,” Weld said. “Talk about pressuring a foreign country to interfere with and control a U.S. election.” The death penalty is the maximum punishment for treason, but federal law also allows for lesser sentences including five-year prison terms or fines starting at $10,000. The law also states that treasonous acts can prohibit one from holding public office. “The penalty on the Constitution is removal from office,” Weld said. “And that might look like a pretty good alternative to the president if he can work out a plea deal.” Weld then backed off calls for executing the president, but only slightly. “The grounds for removal of office, impeachment, are treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors,” he said. “We don’t have to worry about bribery anymore, we don’t have to worry about other high crimes and misdemeanors, although I think he committed many. We have treason and we can go right for the hoop.” more...

The whistleblower controversy reveals the limits of our system’s defenses.
By Asha Rangappa

On the surface, the latest confrontation between Congress and the White House involves the Trump administration’s refusal to hand over to the House Intelligence Committee a whistleblower complaint deemed an “urgent concern” by the inspector general for the U.S. intelligence community. But what the showdown is really about is the government’s inability to cope with an unprecedented problem: what to do when the president of the United States poses a national security threat. The case involves a complaint by an intelligence official about communications between President Trump and a foreign leader and a “promise” Trump made, which the intelligence official found alarming enough to notify the inspector general about it. People familiar with the case told The Washington Post that it centers on Ukraine, whose president, Volodymyr Zelensky, spoke with Trump two and a half weeks before the complaint was filed. We don’t yet know the details of the communications or the promise — only that it was, apparently, troubling. Presidents have, of course, acted inappropriately in the past, and our constitutional system has a framework in place for addressing misconduct by the chief executive. But it’s designed to deal with straightforward criminal activity, not national security threats. The special counsel regulations, for example, were created to deal with a Watergate-like situation as a worst-case scenario. So they take into account the need for an investigation insulated from political influence and give special counsels the ability to make prosecutorial decisions independently of the rest of the Justice Department or the attorney general. The rules even envision a report that might be made public. This approach is appropriate when an investigation involves collecting evidence that can hold up in a court of law. But it is inadequate to address potentially noncriminal conduct that may nevertheless endanger the national security of the United States. This split was evident in the report on the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia in the 2016 election, submitted by then-special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Although Mueller’s mandate was broad, and potentially encompassed a counterintelligence investigation, he narrowed the scope of his inquiry to criminal matters. The final report lays out only the decisions to charge or not charge individuals based on the evidence collected, noting only briefly that counterintelligence information was shared with the FBI for use in its (presumably ongoing) classified investigation. As a result, the public remains in the dark on whether Trump may be wittingly or unwittingly compromised in his dealings with Russia, or if the FBI and the intelligence community have information to explain his oddly submissive behavior with world leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin. Very few people seem to know what’s going on with the counterintelligence investigation: Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the House Intelligence Committee chairman, has said that his panel doesn’t know the status of the probe, or even if it’s still going on, even though the law requires the administration to keep the lawmakers up to date. But counterintelligence investigations are stymied if they involve the president. more...

By John Cassidy

ust when you think you’ve seen it all, along comes a Trump development to trump them all—or most of them. On Thursday night, the Washington Post reported that a complaint from an anonymous intelligence whistle-blower, which has been the subject of a bitter oversight dispute between the Trump Administration and Congress, centers on a phone call that Trump had on July 25th, with Ukraine’s recently elected President, Volodymyr Zelensky. Many details about this story remain murky, but the implication seems to be that the whistle-blower is alleging that Trump promised to release two hundred and fifty million dollars in stalled aid for Ukraine if Zelensky would launch a corruption investigation into matters involving Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. You might think that sounds too outrageous to be plausible: a President who spent just under two years being investigated for possibly colluding with Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election putting the squeeze on another foreign country to interfere in the 2020 race. But hang on a minute. Shortly after the Post’s story dropped, Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who has for months been claiming (without any real evidence) that Joe Biden bribed Ukrainian officials to drop a corruption investigation involving his son, went on Chris Cuomo’s CNN show and said, “It is perfectly appropriate for a President to say to a leader of a foreign country, ‘Investigate this bribe, that was paid by a former Vice-President, that our media in America is covering up.’ ” For the past few days, reporters have been trying to get more details about the whistle-blower’s complaint. Joseph Maguire, the acting director of National Intelligence, has ordered the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community not to pass it along to Congress, a decision that he says was based on legal advice from the Justice Department. The Administration’s refusal to coöperate has caused a mighty row with the House Intelligence Committee, headed by Adam Schiff, Democrat of California. Of course, the Trump Administration and the Democrats on Capitol Hill are involved in many disputes arising from congressional investigations into Trump and his associates. But until now none of them have involved the suggestion that Trump may have exerted pressure on a foreign leader to take actions to help his 2020 reëlection bid, and may have even pledged something in return. Even before this latest revelation, however, Trump’s conversation with Zelensky, a former comedian and screenwriter who was elected President of Ukraine in April, had attracted the attention of congressional Democrats, who were investigating what Trump and Giuliani were up to on the Kiev front. In August, reports emerged that Trump was threatening to withhold two hundred and fifty million dollars in U.S. aid to Ukraine, which was supposed to be used to deter Russian aggression in the east of the country. On September 9th, the leaders of three Democrat-controlled House committees demanded the transcript and a list of participants on the July 25th call. The Democrats said that Giuliani and Trump “appear to have acted outside legitimate law enforcement and diplomatic channels.” The Democrats also referred to a Ukrainian government readout from the July 25th call, which said that Trump told Zelensky he was “convinced the new Ukrainian government will be able to quickly improve [the] image of Ukraine, [and] complete [the] investigation of corruption cases, which inhibited the interaction between Ukraine and the USA.” more...

By Elliot Hannon

A U.S. intelligence official alarmed by President Trump’s communications with a foreign leader filed an official whistleblower complaint last month with the inspector general for the intelligence community, the Washington Post reports. Trump’s interactions with the leader, whose identity has not been disclosed, included what the Post described as “a promise” the official “regarded as so troubling” that the official came forward. It’s not clear what form the interaction took place, though one intelligence official told the Post that it was a phone call. Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson found the complaint, which was filed on Aug. 12, to be credible and designated the matter of “urgent concern,” a legal classification that is supposed to prompt the notification of oversight committees in Congress. Acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire, however, has so far refused to share the whistleblower’s concerns with Congress, setting off yet another power struggle between congressional leaders and the Trump administration, as well as speculation over what leader Trump may have acted inappropriately with. more...  

By Zachary Cohen, CNN

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump's communications with a foreign leader, which included a "promise," sparked the whistleblower complaint that has led the acting director of national intelligence to agree to testify amid a showdown with Congress, The Washington Post reported Wednesday. The Post reported that an official in the American intelligence community was so bothered by a "promise" Trump made to a foreign leader that the official filed a formal whistleblower complaint with the inspector general of the intelligence community, according to two former US officials familiar with the matter. It's unknown which leader Trump was speaking to and it's the first time his direct involvement in the complaint has been reported, according to the Post. The complaint was filed on August 12 and White House records show Trump had spoken to or interacted with five foreign leaders in the previous five weeks, the Post reports: Russian President Vladimir Putin, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands and the Emir of Qatar. However, it's not clear that the communication that inspired the complaint was with any of those leaders. The White House did not respond to the Post's requests for comment and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and a lawyer representing the whistleblower declined to comment to the Post. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence also declined to comment when reached by CNN on Wednesday. The complaint has led to a standoff between Congress and acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, who has refused to turn over the complaint to the House Intelligence Committee. Maguire has agreed to testify next week in an open session before the committee after refusing to comply with Tuesday's deadline to hand over the whistleblower complaint, which had been deemed by the intelligence community inspector general to be "credible and urgent." The committee's chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff, announced Wednesday that Maguire will appear at 9 a.m. on September 26. The California Democrat also announced that the intelligence community inspector general will brief the House committee Thursday behind closed doors about how it handled the whistleblower complaint. In a subpoena issued last week, Schiff said he would force the acting intelligence chief to testify this Thursday if he did not comply with a request to turn over the complaint and all corresponding records. On Tuesday, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence sent letters to Schiff and ranking Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California, saying not only that Maguire was refusing to provide the requested information -- as the complaint "does not meet the definition of 'urgent concern' " -- but also that he would not appear before the committee as scheduled because he "is not available on such short notice." But by Wednesday, the two sides appeared to have reached a compromise, if only on the timing of the hearing, setting the stage for what could be a contentious public hearing. Maguire will likely be grilled by lawmakers concerned that the administration may have violated whistleblower protections and whether President Donald Trump or top White House officials were involved in the case. Schiff said Monday that he does not know the exact nature of the complaint, as he has not yet received the details from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, nor does he know the whistleblower's identity. He has argued that Maguire has taken unprecedented steps to withhold the information from Congress. According to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence's letter Tuesday to Schiff, obtained by CNN, the complaint does not involve anyone in the intelligence community but rather "stakeholders within the Executive Branch." As a result, its lawyer argues, the complaint is not of "urgent concern" to the office. more...

By Sonam Sheth

US officials were so alarmed by President Donald Trump's decision to reveal classified intelligence to Russian officials during an Oval Office meeting in 2017 that they extracted a top-secret source from Russia shortly after, CNN reported on Monday. Intelligence officials typically extract sources when they believe the person's life is in immediate danger. The information Trump shared with the Russians wasn't directly connected to the source, but CNN reported that its disclosure prompted officials to "renew earlier discussions" about the potential risk that the source would be exposed. The president has repeatedly been accused of mishandling classified information that could compromise the US's intelligence-gathering methods and put lives at risk. The US was forced to extract a top-secret source from Russia after President Donald Trump revealed classified information to two Russian officials in 2017, CNN reported on Monday. A person directly involved with the discussions told the outlet the US was concerned that Trump and his administration routinely mishandled classified intelligence and that their actions could expose the covert source as a spy within the Russian government. Trump stunned the national-security apparatus and intelligence community when it surfaced that in an Oval Office meeting in May 2017 he shared the information with Sergey Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, and Sergey Kislyak, then Russia's ambassador to the US.  Trump's disclosure was not specifically about the Russian spy. But his disregard of strict intelligence-sharing rules to protect highly placed sources "prompted intelligence officials to renew earlier discussions about the potential risk" that the source in Russya would be exposed, CNN reported. At the Oval Office meeting, which took place one day after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, the president is said to have boasted to the Russians that firing "nut job" Comey had taken "great pressure" off him. Comey had been spearheading the FBI's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election. Trump then went on to share with Lavrov and Kislyak intelligence connected to the Islamic State in Syria. The information came from Israel, which had not given the US permission to share it with the Russians because it could have compromised an Israeli source in the region. more...

By Geoff Brumfiel - NPR

President Trump has tweeted what experts say is almost certainly an image from a classified satellite or drone, showing the aftermath of an accident at an Iranian space facility. "The United States of America was not involved in the catastrophic accident during final launch preparations for the Safir [Space Launch Vehicle] Launch at Semnan Launch Site One in Iran," the president said in a tweet that accompanied the image on Friday. "I wish Iran best wishes and good luck in determining what happened at Site One." NPR broke the news of the launch failure on Thursday, using images from commercial satellites that flew over Iran's Imam Khomeini Space Center. Those images showed smoke billowing from the pad. Iran has since acknowledged an accident occurred at the site. Some of the highest-resolution imagery available commercially comes from the company Maxar, whose WorldView-2 satellite sports 46-centimeter resolution. But the image shown in the president's tweet appears to be of far better quality, says Ankit Panda, an adjunct senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists, who specializes in analyzing satellite imagery. "The resolution is amazingly high," says Panda. "I would think it's probably below well below 20 centimeters, which is much higher than anything I've ever seen." more...

by Ryan Pickrell,Sonam Sheth

President Donald Trump tweeted out an image on Friday from a classified briefing to taunt Iran, and analysts suspect the photo came from one of the US's most advanced satellites. Specifically, the photo is believed to have come from a US KH-11 spy satellite called USA-224. "These are high resolution optical satellites that resemble the Hubble Space Telescope but look down to Earth instead of to the heavens," Marco Langbroek, a Dutch expert who tracks satellites, wrote recently. Trump's tweet came a day after an Iranian rocket designed to carry satellites into space exploded on the launchpad last Thursday, NPR reported. Commercial satellite imagery of the blast was publicly available after the incident, but the photo in Trump's tweet was of a much higher resolution and better quality, leaving experts flabbergasted. "I've never seen anything like this before," Dave Schmerler, the leading expert on open source imagery analysis who analyzed the Planet Labs photos provided to NPR, told Insider's Alex Lockie. "I know that [the US military has] amazing capabilities, but I don't know what this is." Cees Bassa, a professional astronomer who works at ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, was among the first to suggest that based on the features of the launchpad in the photo and the positioning of the camera, the image likely came from the USA-224. Michael Thompson, a Purdue University graduate student studying astrodynamics and spacecraft navigation, also used publicly available data to determine the USA-224 passed over the Iranian space center Thursday, Spaceflight Now reported. Bassa explained that these satellites, known as Keyhole satellites, "are believed to produce the sharpest images of the Earth's surface." Langbroek was also able to simulate the view from the USA-224, and it was a match to the photo Trump tweeted out. "It is a very good match so there is no doubt in my mind that it is an image taken by USA-224," Langbroek wrote on Twitter. more...

MANILA (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump told his Philippine counterpart that Washington has sent two nuclear submarines to waters off the Korean peninsula, the New York Times said, comments likely to raise questions about his handling of sensitive information. Trump has said “a major, major conflict” with North Korea is possible because of its nuclear and missile programs and that all options are on the table but that he wants to resolve the crisis diplomatically. North Korea has vowed to develop a missile mounted with a nuclear warhead that can strike the mainland United States, saying the program is necessary to counter U.S. aggression. Trump told Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte Washington had “a lot of firepower over there”, according to the New York Times, which quoted a transcript of an April 29 call between the two. more...

Cyber-security protocols, the president has complained, are “inconvenient.”
By Maya Kosoff

During a June 2016 campaign speech, Donald Trump turned yet again to one of his favorite topics: Hillary Clinton’s e-mails. “Her server was easily hacked by foreign governments, perhaps even by her financial backers in communist China,” he said, “putting all of America and our citizens in danger, great danger.” Yet when it comes to “the cyber,” Trump and his minions seem to have adopted a stance that’s equally blasé. Not only have myriad reports emerged of officials using encrypted, disappearing-message services like Confide, in potential violation of federal record-keeping laws, but Steve Bannon, Gary Cohn, Jared Kushner, and Reince Priebus all occasionally relied on private e-mail and electronic devices to conduct government business. Chief of Staff John Kelly’s personal cell phone was reportedly compromised for months while he served as secretary of homeland security, under a president who didn’t bother to secure his Android phone or the Wi-Fi networks on his many properties. And it seems the president’s willful neglect of cyber-security has continued well into his time in office. Citing administration officials, Politico reports that Trump’s call-enabled White House iPhone—he has “at least” two phones, one to make and receive calls and another that’s pre-loaded with several news sites and the Twitter app—is not equipped with security features designed to shield his communications from would-be hackers and other surveillance. And though his staff has reportedly urged him to swap out the Twitter phone once a month, he’s resisted, calling it “too inconvenient.” (Both smartphones are supplied by White House Information Technology and the White House Communications Agency, which oversees White House telecommunications.) While Trump’s predecessor had his phones examined for suspicious activity every 30 days, Trump has reportedly gone as long as five months without turning in his Twitter-capable device for inspection. And unlike Barack Obama’s White House-issued cell phones, Trump’s call-enabled iPhone has a camera and microphone, increasing the risk that it could be used to hack and monitor the president. (The G.P.S. tracker is disabled.) The White House has refuted the idea that the microphone and camera make Trump vulnerable, telling Politico, “Due to inherent capabilities and advancement in technologies, these devices are more secure than any Obama-era devices.” A senior West Wing official told Politico that the call-enabled phone is “seamlessly swapped out on a regular basis through routine support operations,” though “because of the security controls of the Twitter phone and the Twitter account,” that device “does not necessitate regular change-out.” more...

By Jeff Robbins

Donald Trump’s boosters like to conjure up a secret “deep state” embedded in the bowels of the U.S. government, a supposed conspiracy of individuals who block, defy or otherwise threaten our national security from within. Part of Trump’s genius, of course, is accusing critics of the very things of which he is guilty, and so it is with his claim that it is others within the government who pose a threat to the country. Week after week, the Trump experience spawns evidence that the only “deep state” jeopardizing our national security is in the person of the president himself, and last week was no exception. However understated it was on other points, Robert Mueller’s report minced no words about the Russian government’s attack on America’s democracy in 2016, stating at its outset: “The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion.” Mueller’s investigation “established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency, and worked to secure that outcome.” For its part, the investigators found, Trump’s team “expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts,” and they “identified numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign.” In short, the Russian government worked in “sweeping” fashion to place Trump in office because it concluded that it was to Russia’s advantage to have him there. That ought to make every American who worries about our national security shudder. The right’s cavalier shrugging off of a hostile foreign power’s efforts to install a president to its liking, whether attributable to blindness or hypocrisy or delusion, is one of the questions with which historians examining how it is that America fell asleep during the Trump era will no doubt grapple. more...  

The president has kept features at risk for hacking and resisted efforts by staff to inspect the phones he uses for tweeting.

President Donald Trump uses a White House cellphone that isn’t equipped with sophisticated security features designed to shield his communications, according to two senior administration officials — a departure from the practice of his predecessors that potentially exposes him to hacking or surveillance. The president, who relies on cellphones to reach his friends and millions of Twitter followers, has rebuffed staff efforts to strengthen security around his phone use, according to the administration officials. The president uses at least two iPhones, according to one of the officials. The phones — one capable only of making calls, the other equipped only with the Twitter app and preloaded with a handful of news sites — are issued by White House Information Technology and the White House Communications Agency, an office staffed by military personnel that oversees White House telecommunications. While aides have urged the president to swap out the Twitter phone on a monthly basis, Trump has resisted their entreaties, telling them it was “too inconvenient,” the same administration official said. The president has gone as long as five months without having the phone checked by security experts. It is unclear how often Trump’s call-capable phones, which are essentially used as burner phones, are swapped out. President Barack Obama handed over his White House phones every 30 days to be examined by telecommunications staffers for hacking and other suspicious activity, according to an Obama administration official. The White House declined to comment for this story, but a senior West Wing official said the call-capable phones “are seamlessly swapped out on a regular basis through routine support operations. Because of the security controls of the Twitter phone and the Twitter account, it does not necessitate regular change-out.” more...

From his tweets to his bluster to his white supremacist policies, Donald Trump poses a security risk to the United States. He is actively making us less safe with each day in office. Here is a running list of just some of the ways he has threatened our safety. more...

The president rebutted a New York Times report that Chinese and Russian spies eavesdrop on his iPhone calls, tweeting, "I rarely use a cellphone."
By Adam Edelman

U.S. officials told NBC News on Thursday that they have been concerned for months that President Donald Trump has been discussing sensitive information on an unsecured cellphone with informal advisers, including Sean Hannity of Fox News. The information comes after The New York Times reported that Chinese and Russian spies have been listening to personal phone calls Trump has made from his cellphones. Several aides to Trump have repeatedly warned the president of the routine eavesdropping on his unsecure phones, The Times reported. Trump, however, has refused to give up his iPhones, the paper said. NBC News has not confirmed aspects of that report. Trump on Thursday denied the claims, calling it "soooo wrong" in a pair of tweets. "The so-called experts on Trump over at the New York Times wrote a long and boring article on my cellphone usage that is so incorrect I do not have time here to correct it. I only use Government Phones, and have only one seldom used government cell phone. Story is soooo wrong!" he tweeted. "The New York Times has a new Fake Story that now the Russians and Chinese (glad they finally added China) are listening to all of my calls on cellphones," Trump added. "Except that I rarely use a cellphone, & when I do it’s government authorized. I like Hard Lines. Just more made up Fake News!" more...

Naming of Salman Abedi by ‘US officials’ hours before it was announced by UK authorities is latest in series of leaks that may damage credibility with allies. American officials have been criticised for leaking the identity of the Manchester bomber before British police officially named him. Salman Abedi was identified in media reports that attributed “US officials” as the source even as their British counterparts remained tight-lipped. The disclosures renewed concerns over leaks from Donald Trump’s administration two weeks after the US president revealed classified information, apparently from Israel, to Russia’s foreign minister in a White House meeting. Critics warn that US allies may be less willing to share intelligence in the future. Although UK journalists had Abedi’s name, the UK government and Greater Manchester police declined to confirm it more than two hours after it appeared in the US press. Earlier in the day, the government indicated it might not release the name at all on Tuesday because the investigation was continuing. On Monday night, a correspondent for America’s ABC network tweeted: “Leading theory is Manchester was a suicide bomber, US senior law enforcement official briefed on the investigation tells @ABC.” On Tuesday, CBS and NBC were quick to name the suspect believed to have blown himself up following an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena as 22-year-old Salman Abedi. The Reuters news agency, an international organisation with headquarters in London, also published the name, citing “three US officials”, before British police made it public. The Trump administration’s apparent indiscretion seems likely to cause consternation in London and could raise questions about future cooperation in the long term. more...

By Greg Miller and Greg Jaffe

President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week, according to current and former U.S. officials, who said Trump’s disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State. The information the president relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said. The partner had not given the United States permission to share the material with Russia, and officials said Trump’s decision to do so endangers cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State. After Trump’s meeting, senior White House officials took steps to contain the damage, placing calls to the CIA and the National Security Agency. “This is code-word information,” said a U.S. official familiar with the matter, using terminology that refers to one of the highest classification levels used by American spy agencies. Trump “revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies.” The revelation comes as the president faces rising legal and political pressure on multiple Russia-related fronts. Last week, he fired FBI Director James B. Comey in the midst of a bureau investigation into possible links between the Trump campaign and Moscow. Trump’s subsequent admission that his decision was driven by “this Russia thing” was seen by critics as attempted obstruction of justice. One day after dismissing Comey, Trump welcomed Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak — a key figure in earlier Russia controversies — into the Oval Office. It was during that meeting, officials said, that Trump went off script and began describing details of an Islamic State terrorist threat related to the use of laptop computers on aircraft. more...

On May 10, 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump disclosed classified information to Russian government representatives, creating political and security concerns in the United States and its allies, especially Israel. Soon after the meeting, American intelligence extracted a high-level covert source from within the Russian government, on concerns the individual could be at risk due, in part, to Trump and his administration repeatedly mishandling classified intelligence. President Donald Trump discussed classified information provided by an U.S. ally regarding about a planned Islamic State operation during an Oval Office meeting on May 10, 2017 with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, providing sufficient details that could be used by the Russians to deduce the identity of the ally and the manner in which it was collected, according to current and former government officials. The disclosure was first reported in The Washington Post on May 15, 2017. White House staff initially denied the report, but the following day Trump defended the disclosure, stating that he has the "absolute right" to "share" intelligence with Russia. It was later reported that Israel was the source of the information. Israel did not confirm or deny the report but released a statement stating full confidence in the intelligence sharing relationships with the United States. Ynetnews, an Israeli news website, had previously reported on January 12 that in a meeting held in early January (during Trump's presidential transition), U.S. intelligence officials advised Israeli Mossad and other intelligence officials to "be careful" when transferring intelligence information to the Trump White House and administration until the possibility of Russian influence over Trump, suggested by Christopher Steele's report (commonly referred as the Trump–Russia dossier), has been fully investigated. U.S. officials were concerned that the information, particularly about sensitive intelligence sources, could be passed to Russia and then to Iran. Two Israeli intelligence officials confirmed privately that Trump's disclosure of the intelligence to Russia was "for us, our worst fears confirmed." They said the disclosure jeopardizes Israel's "arrangement with America which is unique to the world of intelligence sharing" and that Israeli officials were "boiling mad and demanding answers". The report was described as "shocking" and "horrifying" by some commentators and former U.S. intelligence officials. According to current and former U.S. officials interviewed by ABC News, Trump's disclosure endangered the life of a spy placed by Israel in ISIL-held territory in Syria. The classified information Trump shared came from a source described as the most valuable of any current sources on any current external plotting, according to The Wall Street Journal. more...

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